Shropshire all-rounder Joe Leach has been rewarded for his breakthrough into First Class cricket with a one-year deal at County Championship Division Two side Worcestershire.
Leach, who turns 22 on Tuesday, impressed the New Road coaching staff enough while he was on a summer contract last season to be offered terms for the next 12 months.
It is his first full time professional deal and Leach, an integral part of Shrewsbury’s recent success story in winning the Birmingham Cricket League title for the first time and being crowned National KO champions, could not be any happier.
“It came as a relief but I’m really happy as well,” said Leach, who broke into the Pears’ first team towards the end of last season’s disappointing relegation campaign.
“Everyone’s future was up in the air but I’m just looking forward to starting training at Worcestershire on November 1.
“I’ve had a week away in Portugal but I’m raring to go now.”
Leach admitted there was a time last season when he was concerned about his long-term prospects with the Pears, but his fortunes changed once he was called up to face the might of the South African tourists at New Road.
He played regularly for the rest of the campaign, picking up valuable experience which should stand him in good stead for the challenge ahead.
“I didn’t really do myself justice in the games I played but it was nice to have the experience,” added Leach.
“It was a steep learning curve but I now want to cement my place.
“There’s not a lot of household names but if you do well then you keep your place so that’s the target.”
And Leach still plans to play for Shrewsbury in the Birmingham League whenever he has the opportunity.
Leach’s contract means there are now five players with Shropshire connections in the First Class game – Jack Shantry also with Worcestershire,
James Taylor at Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire’s Dan Redfern and David Lloyd of Glamorgan.